It seems as though you can't throw a stick these days without hitting someone who has read Game of Thrones (or seen the TV show). Popularity does not necessarily equate to quality, as the "50 Shades of Grey" phenomenon makes obvious, but enough readers I respect had told me it was amazing that I was quite looking forward to it. Martin did not disappoint. He's a beautiful writer, a little wordy, yes, but very good with descriptions and emotions. His characters are easily believable and a pleasure to read.
The only problem I have with the book is existential. It's difficult for me to read about despicable people doing horrible things to good people, even when they're not real. It makes my sense of righteous indignation ignite, and there are some books I simply cannot read because of how horrible the characters were. Luckily, Game of Thrones has enough going for it, and enough decent (or at least partly so) characters that the horrible ones are less of an emotional burden, and I can honestly say that I cannot wait to read the rest of the series.